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Best Rewards Credit Cards 2024

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Updated February 29, 2024

Interested in adding a new tool to your financial utility belt? There are loads of rewards credit cards to choose from—but which is the best card for you depend on a few things:

  • Your financial goals.
  • Your spending habits.
  • Your credit score.

We've curated a selection of rewards credit cards, ranging from straightforward options to premium choices like metal credit cards, whether you’re simply looking for cashback or you want to book a lie-flat first class seat to Asia.

card_name

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Credit score
credit_score_needed
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Balance transfer intro apr
balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full

The card_name is a solid flat-rate earnings card with annual_fee_disclaimer annual fee. Although the 1.5% cash back doesn’t seem impressive at first glance, it becomes more valuable when combined with other rewards cards from Chase that can be redeemed for a far greater value.

This card is recommended for everyday use, whether for doctor copays or big box store purchases. It can be a large earner for cardmembers who want to get the most out of their everyday spending.

Best rewards credit cards: Summary

Why we recommend these rewards credit cards

Best for beginners: card_name

card_name

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
This card offers many different options for points redemption, so it’s great for cardholders who want flexibility. If you travel or stay with any of the partner airlines or hotels, this can be a good way to take advantage of loyalty programs and redeem points directly for even more value.

Welcome offer: You’ll bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: If you’re just starting your journey into rewards credit cards, there’s no better gateway than the card_name. There are a few reasons for this.

Most importantly, the points you earn are versatile enough to fit your goals—no matter what they are. You can cash them out at a rate of 1 cent per point; you can use them to buy travel through the Chase Travel Portal at a rate of 1.25 cents each; you can transfer them to airline and hotel partners (like Southwest and Hyatt) for free flights and accommodations.

The card also offers bonus points for common expenses. You’ll earn:

  • 5 points per dollar for travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal (and 2 points per dollar for all other travel).
  • 3 points per dollar for dining, streaming services, and online grocery purchases (except with Walmart, Target, and any wholesale clubs).
  • 1 point per dollar for all other purchases.

Expenses like groceries, dining, and streaming likely account for the lion’s share of your monthly spending. Receiving a bonus for these purchases can translate into many tens of thousands of points each year.

The card’s annual_fees annual fee is also very accessible to those apprehensive of rewards credit cards. With ongoing benefits like top-notch travel insurance and a yearly $50 credit for prepaid hotel stays booked through the Chase Travel Portal, you’ll find the fee to be easily justified.


Best for travel: card_name

card_name

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full

This card's generous benefits and flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points make it an excellent deal for those who can use them. Users get a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (retail value $469), a $300 annual travel credit that applies to travel purchases each year, 50% more value when redeeming their rewards for travel through Chase, a fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, and a generous suite of travel insurance benefits.

Welcome offer: You’ll bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: card_name is the gold standard of travel credit cards. It doesn’t lead the industry in every category, but it’s extremely well-rounded. Yes, you’ll pay an eye-watering annual_fees fee upfront, but the card’s ongoing benefits can quickly offset that number–by a lot.

For example, you’ll receive a $300 travel credit after opening your card and each year after your account anniversary. If you routinely spend at least $300 per year on travel, this card’s annual fee effectively drops to $250.

You’ll also receive:

  • The best travel insurance of any credit card on the market.
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (worth over $400 annually) and access to Chase Sapphire Lounges.
  • Generous earning rates for travel and dining expenses (up to 10 points per dollar).
  • Up to $100 credit toward trusted traveler programs such as Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS every four years (membership lasts five years).
  • Two years of free Lyft Pink All Access membership, which comes with perks like discounted rides, cancellation forgiveness up to three times per month, and free Priority Pickup upgrades.

Again, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are extremely flexible. You can cash them out at a rate of 1 cent each, transfer them to airline and hotel partners for free travel, or purchase travel through the Chase Travel Portal at a rate of 1.5 cents each (0.25 cents more value than card_name cardholders will get).


Best for cash back: Citi Custom Cash® Card

Citi Custom Cash® Card

Citi Custom Cash® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it: The Citi Custom Cash® Card is one of the most effortless rewards credit cards in existence. You’ll earn 5% back (on up to $500 in spending, then 1%) in whichever eligible category you spend the most each billing cycle. This includes:

  • Drugstores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Home improvement stores
  • Live entertainment
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Select streaming services
  • Select transit
  • Select travel

You’ll earn 1% back on everything else.

The genius of this card is that you don’t have to select the category with which you want to earn a bonus; the card will detect your most used expense and automatically bonus it for you.

One important note is that you’re technically collecting Citi ThankYou points (Citi’s travel rewards currency) instead of cash back. You can redeem your points at a rate of 1 cent each in the form of statement credits or direct deposit, but you can also transfer them to valuable airline and hotel partners if you also hold the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige® Card (not available to new applicants). In other words, the rewards you earn with the Citi Custom Cash® Card can be worth significantly more if paired with the right credit card.

Learn more from our full review.


Best for no annual fee: card_name

card_name

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Credit score
credit_score_needed
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Balance transfer intro apr
balance_transfer_intro_apr,balance_transfer_intro_duration
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full

The card_name is a solid flat-rate earnings card with annual_fee_disclaimer annual fee. Although the 1.5% cash back doesn’t seem impressive at first glance, it becomes more valuable when combined with other rewards cards from Chase that can be redeemed for a far greater value.

This card is recommended for everyday use, whether for doctor copays or big box store purchases. It can be a large earner for cardmembers who want to get the most out of their everyday spending.

Welcome bonus: bonus_miles_full. Offer ending soon.

Why we chose it: The card_name offers a respectable return for all purchases.

While many cards earn a minimum of 1% back on purchases that fall outside of bonus categories, this card will provide 50% more value. You’ll even receive 5% back on travel purchased through the Chase Travel Portal and 3% back for dining and drugstore purchases.

And remember, you’ll receive an increased return on all spending (up to $20,000) during your first year. That means you’re effectively getting:

  • 6.5% back on travel reserved via the Chase Travel Portal
  • 4.5% back on dining and at drugstores
  • 3% back on all other eligible purchases

And similar to the Citi Custom Cash® Card, this card actually earns Chase’s travel rewards currency (Chase Ultimate Rewards points) instead of cash back. Here’s what that means: If you have a card like the card_name, card_name, or card_name, you can use the rewards you earn from this card for travel at an outsized value. For example, you can convert your points into airline miles or hotel points–or you can redeem them for travel through the Chase Travel Portal at a rate between 1.25 cents and 1.5 cents (depending on which Chase Ultimate Rewards card you have).


Best for premium benefits: card_name

card_name

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: The card_name is one of the shiniest, heaviest, thickest rewards credit cards you can get.

It’s got to be thick, for all the benefits crammed into it. This card comes with thousands of dollars in statement credits. And though some are admittedly quite niche, the average cardholder should easily manage to recoup the money spent on its annual_fees annual fee (Rates & Fees). For example, you’ll get:

  • Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits.*
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash each year (distributed in monthly $15 increments and $35 in December), which can be used for rides or food via Uber Eats.*
  • Up to $200 in annual credits toward prepaid hotel reservations made with The Hotel Collection (minimum two-night stay) or Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts.
  • Up to $100 in credit for the application fee of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Up to $189 statement credit to offset CLEAR® Plus, a program that lets you cut in line at TSA checkpoints.*
  • Up to $240 digital entertainment credit (up to $20 per month for eligible services).
  • Up $100 in Saks credits each year.*
  • $12.95 monthly statement credit to offset Walmart+ membership.*

For a frequent traveler, many of those credits can be nearly as good as cash. With little effort, you should be able to squeeze more than $700 from the above list.

But there’s more to the card_name than just statement credits. This card offers the most comprehensive airport lounge access you can find. You’ll receive Priority Pass Select membership*, access to Centurion Lounges, access to Delta Sky Clubs (when you’ve got a same-day Delta ticket), and more. You’ll also get access to the exclusive Fine Hotels & Resorts benefit, which provides elite-like benefits such as room upgrades (when available) and free breakfast when staying at fancy hotels.

The card earns Amex Membership Rewards points, some of the most valuable in the travel game. You can transfer them to 20 different airline and hotel loyalty programs. This is handy if you’re not loyal to a single brand. You can convert your rewards into British Airways Avios, Delta SkyMiles, Hilton points, and many more.

*Enrollment is required for some benefits.


Best for small businesses: card_name

card_name

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Credit score
credit_score_needed
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Rewards rate
  • 1.5% cash back on every business-related purchase
  • 5% cash back on Lyft (through March 2025)
Annual fees
annual_fees
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type

The card_name doesn’t offer a lot of variety in its rewards earnings (a flat 1.5% everywhere), but that’s part of its charm. Those who find bonus categories appealing should stay away, but anyone valuing simplicity has found their new daily driver. A minimum of 1.5% back on everything is above average.

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: The annual_fees annual fee card_name doesn’t earn the most rewards of any small business card out there. But it does something that most others don’t: It earns a flat 1.5% back on all purchases. If the bulk of your small business spending falls into categories outside shipping, online advertising, computer hardware, etc., the card_name is a great option for you.

While this card is marketed to be a cash back credit card, it actually earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. And as with its sibling, the card_name, you can receive outsized value for your rewards if you’ve got either the card_name, card_name, or card_name. Holding one of these cards unlocks the ability to convert your rewards into Southwest Airlines miles, United miles, and more.

One great benefit that this card offers which is virtually nonexistent on no-annual-fee credit cards is primary rental car insurance. This will save you from paying the exorbitant daily fee for the privilege of being covered by the rental agency’s in-house insurance. The only catch is that you must be renting the car for business purposes.


Best for hotel stays: card_name

American Express

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Credit score needed
Good, Excellent
Annual fees
$550

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: The card_name may be the best deal in the credit card world. Even if you only stay at a hotel once or twice per year, this card’s annual_fees annual fee could be worth it.

Here’s a quick rundown of Hilton-specific benefits:

  • Automatic top-tier Diamond elite status, which includes perks like suite upgrades when available, free breakfast (or food vouchers) at the majority of Hilton hotels, 100% bonus points, etc.
  • Annual free night certificate worth up to 150,000 points, valid at (nearly) every Hilton hotel.
  • A second free night certificate of equal value after spending $60,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
  • Up to $250 in credits at Hilton resorts to be used toward room rate, food, spa, etc.

The 150,000-point certificate alone is enough to offset the card’s annual fee, depending on where you use it. I used a free night certificate at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives earlier this year for a room that otherwise cost more than $2,000 per night.

This card also comes with a few dynamite non-Hilton benefits, including Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (worth more than $400 per year)* and up to $250 in airline incidental credits each calendar year.*

*Enrollment is required for some benefits.


Best for airlines: card_name

card_name

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Bonus rewards full
bonus_miles_full
It includes numerous benefits when flying United, including the first checked bag free for you and a companion, priority boarding, and a 25% discount on United Club and inflight purchases. Cardholders also receive two passes for complimentary entry to the United Club each year and complimentary upgrades on award tickets.

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: The card_name is a jack of all trades for those desirous to upgrade their travel experience, both on the ground and in the air.

The card begins enhancing your travel before you even leave the house. Cardholders get more access to United’s “Saver” award seats (the cheapest ones) than those without the card. This perk is otherwise reserved for those with elite status, and it can potentially save you many tens of thousands of miles during a single trip.

The card even comes with one free checked bag for you and a companion on your reservation. You must pay with the card to receive this benefit. Checked bags cost $30 each way, meaning you and a travel buddy could save up to $120 per round-trip.

You’ll receive up to $100 in credits to reimburse you for the application fee of Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS. These programs offer varying degrees of expedited airport security. All three allow you to speed through TSA security checkpoints without removing your shoes or jacket. You even get to keep your laptop in your bag.

Once inside security, you can use the card’s two annual United Club one-time passes to enter a United Club lounge when traveling on United Airlines (or a partner).

The card confers preferred boarding, too. This means you’ll be one of the first to board—guaranteeing you’ll have plenty of overhead bin space for your carry-on. And once the plane is in the air, you’ll get 25% back on any inflight purchases as long as you pay with your card.

You’ll also be privy to plenty of other worthwhile benefits, including excellent travel insurance and primary rental car insurance. Not bad for a card that charges a annual_fees.


Best for balance transfers: Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it: There are other credit cards that offer a longer 0% intro APR window than the Citi Double Cash® Card. However, those other cards become all but useless after that window closes. They don’t collect rewards, and have virtually no useful ongoing benefits.

The $0 (Rates & Fees) annual fee gives you an excellent balance of lengthy 0% APR terms (no interest for 18 months on balance transfers) and return rate. You’ll earn 1% back when you make a purchase and 1% back when you pay off your purchase—effectively 2% back on all purchases.

Even better, this card earns Citi ThankYou points (which can be redeemed at 1 cent per point) instead of cash. That means if you’ve got either the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige, you can convert your rewards into airline and hotel rewards currencies like Turkish Airlines, JetBlue, and Wyndham.


Best for students: card_name

card_name

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: The annual_fees annual fee card_name isn’t just the best student credit card; it’s also one of the best cash back credit cards in general.

Take a look at its almost unbelievable earning rate:

  • 10% cash back for Uber & Uber Eats purchases (through Nov. 14, 2024).
  • 8% cash back via Capital One Entertainment.
  • 5% cash back for hotel stays and car rentals reserved through Capital One Travel.
  • 3% cash back on dining, grocery stores (not including Target or Walmart), entertainment and popular streaming services.
  • 1% cash back for all other eligible purchases.

That’s a wild combination of bonus categories that could capture much of your spending. To boot, the card offers waived foreign transaction fees and statement credits to reimburse the cost of Uber One membership through Nov. 14, 2024.

To open a Capital One student credit card, you must be enrolled in a higher education institution (think an accredited university or community college)—or at the very least admitted with intent to enroll within the next three months.

Once you’ve built the credit necessary to open one of Capital One’s travel credit cards, such as the card_name, you can even turn your cash back into Capital One miles at a rate of 1 point per cent. You can then transfer these points to airline and hotel partners such as Singapore Airlines, Avianca, and Choice Privileges for free travel.


Best for bad/no credit: card_name

card_name

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: This card does not currently offer a bonus.

Why we chose it: If you’re hunting for a credit card that’ll help you build credit, earning rewards shouldn’t be your main concern. The charm of a starter credit card is that those with poor (or zero) credit can be approved. It’s only a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

Many starter credit cards don’t earn anything from spending. But there are a few exceptions—the card_name being the best fit for most. It earns:

  • 5% back for hotel stays and rental cars reserved through Capital One Travel
  • 1.5% back on all other eligible purchases.

The card does charge a annual_fees annual fee which will eat into your yearly return. But you’ll also benefit from the card’s ongoing benefits such as waived foreign transaction fees and up to six months of free Uber One membership (promo ends Nov. 14, 2024).

The card also reviews your credit usage and considers you for an automatic credit line increase in as little as six months.

You can convert the cash back you earn with this card into Capital One miles, which can be transferred to airline and hotel partners for free travel. But to do it, you must also hold a Capital One miles-earning credit card such as the card_name.


Best for low interest: card_name

card_name

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: Admittedly, there are credit cards with lower interest rates than the card_name. But for a balance of ongoing benefits and a reasonable APR, it’s the best choice.

Many rewards credit cards don’t offer an interest rate below 20%. This card comes with a reg_apr,reg_apr_type APR, depending on your creditworthiness. Just realize that APR only triggers if you fail to pay your full statement balance each month. If you’re not carrying a balance, it won’t affect you at all. In fact, if you’re worried about high interest rates, you probably shouldn’t be using credit cards.

The card_name provides a return rate that outpaces most other credit cards:

  • 10% back on Uber and Uber Eats purchases (through Nov. 14, 2024).
  • 8% back for Capital One Entertainment purchases.
  • 5% back on hotels and rental cars reserved through Capital One Travel.
  • 3% back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services, and for grocery store purchases (except at Walmart and Target).
  • 1% back on all other eligible purchases.

The card offers free Uber One membership in the form of monthly statement credits through Nov. 14, 2024.

As with the card_name, this earns cash back that you can convert into travel rewards–but you must also have a card that earns Capital One miles (such as the card_name). You can then transfer your rewards to airline and hotel loyalty programs that partner with Capital One.


Best for Visa: card_name

card_name

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: There are a lot of Visa credit cards out there. If you’re looking for the absolute best, you’ll have to pay for it. The annual_fees annual fee card_name is a Visa Infinite credit card–the highest-tier Visa card you can get.

This particular Visa Infinite card comes with:

  • Higher-octane travel insurance than almost any other credit card.
  • $300 in annual travel credit when booking airfare, hotels, and more through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus Capital One miles each year (worth at least $100 in travel).
  • Access to more than 1,300 airport lounges between Priority Pass, Plaza Premium, and Capital One Lounges.

As you can see, this card justifies its annual fee better than just about any other Visa card out there.

Its earning rates are noteworthy, too. You’ll earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on airfare booked through Capital One Travel, and 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases.

You can use Capital One miles for free flights and hotel stays by transferring to partners such as Avianca, British Airways, and Singapore Airlines. With some strategy, it’s possible to get well over 2 cents per point in value with partners like these.


Best for gas stations: card_name

card_name

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it: The card_name earns 4% back on spending at both gas stations and EV charging stations around the world, up to $7,000 in spending per year (then 1%). Whether you fill up at Costco or somewhere else, you’ll get 4%. The only exception is gas purchased at a supermarket, superstore, convenience store, or warehouse club (except Costco). For these purchases, you’ll get just 1% back.

The annual_fees annual fee is valuable for other spending, too:

  • 3% cash back with restaurants.
  • 3% cash back for eligible travel purchases worldwide.
  • 2% cash back for all other purchases from Costco (in-store and online).
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.

Here’s the catch: You can’t redeem your cash back throughout the year as you can with other cards. Once per year, after your February closing date, you’ll have the option to receive a lump sum of cash or spend it on merchandise in-store at Costco U.S. warehouses.


Best for points and miles: Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full

Why we chose it: Whether you’re trying to earn hotel points or airline miles, you need a card that does two things:

  1. Earns flexible rewards that can transfer to multiple different airline and hotel loyalty programs. This way, you don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a single program. You can convert your rewards into the currency that best suits each travel situation.
  2. Earns bonus points for everyday spending.

The $95 (Rates & Fees) annual fee does both of these things very, very well. You’ll earn:

  • 3 points per dollar on travel and hotels.
  • 3 points per dollar on gas stations.
  • 3 points per dollar at restaurants.
  • 3 points per dollar at supermarkets.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases

That covers the bases for most cardholders. You can get 3x points on nearly everything. And you can convert these points to 16 airline and hotel currencies including Turkish Airlines, JetBlue, and Wyndham. If you know how to wield them, you could receive a value around 2 cents per point (or more).


Best for groceries: card_name

card_name

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees

Welcome offer: bonus_miles_full.

Why we chose it: When it comes to groceries, no other credit card offers a comparable return to the card_name. You’ll receive 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1%). The only caveat is that not all stores that sell groceries are considered supermarkets. Superstores, convenience stores, warehouse clubs, and meal-kit delivery services will not qualify for this 6% bonus.

If you were to max out this card’s bonus potential at supermarkets, you’d earn $360 in cash back each year. However, the card charges a annual_fees (Rates & Fees). Keep that in mind when tallying up your yearly earnings.

The card_name also earns:

  • 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% back at U.S. gas stations (you’ll earn 1% back at superstores, supermarkets, and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline).
  • 3% back on transit.
  • 1% back on all other purchases.

This card even comes with two monthly statement credits: A $7 credit to reimburse a subscription to the Disney Bundle costing $12.99 or more per month, and a $10 credit toward the Equinox fitness app, Equinox+ (which costs $40 per month). Enrollment is required for both of these benefits.


Best rewards credit cards comparison chart

Rewards Credit CardIntro offerAnnual feeMinimum Credit
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
N/A
$550
Good, Excellent
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
$0
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
credit_score_needed
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
annual_fees
credit_score_needed

Our Methodology

When selecting the top rewards credit cards, we first identified the most popular credit card categories:

  • Beginner.
  • Travel.
  • Cash back.
  • No annual fee.
  • Premium benefits.
  • Small business.
  • Hotel.
  • Airline.
  • Balance transfer.
  • Student.
  • Bad/no credit.
  • Low interest.
  • Visa.
  • Gas.
  • Points and miles.
  • Grocery.

In each of these categories, we weighed the highest-performing options against each other to determine which products offered the best mix of return rate, welcome bonus, ongoing benefits, and annual fee. If you’re searching for a credit card in any of the above categories, the best card for you is almost certainly on our list.

Who should apply for a rewards credit card?

We generally recommend anyone with a credit score below 700 not apply for rewards credit cards. There are two reasons:

  1. While it is possible to open a credit card with a sub-700 credit score, your chances of approval aren’t nearly as high.
  2. If your credit score is below 700, you may not yet have demonstrated to yourself a streak of healthy credit habits that indicate you’re ready for a rewards credit card with sky-high interest rates. Rewards credit cards can be dangerous if they’re used carelessly.

All this to say, if you’ve got a good history with credit and you’re confident you won’t spend beyond your means, you should absolutely open a rewards credit card. Any money you spend that doesn’t offer some sort of return is equivalent to flushing money down the commode.

How to compare rewards credit cards and select the best one for you

To choose the perfect credit card for your situation, there are four big factors to consider.

Pinpoint your goals

Don’t open the first credit card that comes along with an alluring welcome bonus. Figure out what you want it to accomplish for you.

Is your primary goal to earn cash back? Do you want to travel to Europe for pennies on the dollar? Do you have a small business with expenses that you want to sequester from your personal expenses? Do you simply want to build credit? No matter the answer, there’s a credit card specifically tailored for you.

Assess your spending habits

You’d be astounded by how quickly you can rack up credit card rewards due to bonus spending categories. Examine your spending to identify the things you spend most on and then open a card that complements those expenses.

If the majority of your monthly spending is restaurants and gas stations, open a card that offers bonus points for those categories. If you spend a lot on utilities and groceries, open a card that earns bonus rewards for those categories. If your spending is all over the place, open a card that earns a respectable flat rate on all purchases.

Weigh the annual fee

Even if your points earning is gangbusters, it hardly matters if it’s negated by an annual fee.If you’re opening a credit card with an annual fee, make sure you can organically use the card’s ongoing benefits to offset that fee.

For example, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card incurs a $395 annual fee. But it also comes with:

  • Up to $300 in annual credit for travel booked through the Capital One Travel portal.
  • 10,000 bonus Capital One miles after each account anniversary (worth at least $100 in travel).
  • Airport lounge access worth over $400 per year (Priority Pass Select membership and Capital One lounge access).
  • Excellent travel insurance.

If you regularly spend at least $400 per year on travel, you can quite effortlessly negate the Capital One Venture X annual fee. Then you can enjoy the card’s other benefits and earning rates for effectively zero cost.

Submit realistic applications

If your credit score is in the low 500s, applying for a premium rewards credit card will all but guarantee a rejection letter. Don’t apply outside your league; instead, spend time cultivating your credit score and wait to apply for that tantalizing stainless steel card a little later.

Alternatives to rewards credit cards

There are more ways than just credit cards to earn rewards.

For example, some debit cards give you the ability to earn cash back for your spending (though you’ll have a tough time finding anything more generous than 1%). If you’re not ready to enter the world of credit just yet, a rewards debit card can be a good substitute.

Alternatively, you could open a high yield checking and/or savings account. It’s not difficult to receive as much as 4% APY just for parking your money in the right account. You can even earn travel rewards with Bask Bank, which awards American Airlines miles instead of cash back.

Finally, you can search for banks that are offering welcome bonuses for opening checking or savings accounts and completing various steps. You’ll occasionally stumble upon a bonus of several hundred dollars.

TIME Stamp: Choose a card that fits your lifestyle

The right rewards credit card can mean the difference between a Red Roof Inn and a five-star hotel on your next vacation. It can also mean hundreds of dollars in cash back each year. Other perks can include free grocery delivery, discounts with your favorite restaurants, exclusive access to sought-after music and sports events, and more.

Your credit card will work the hardest if you open one that fits perfectly with your lifestyle. For example, it rewards you for your everyday spending. And its statement credits reimburse you for purchases you planned to make, anyway.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Pros and Cons of rewards credit cards

Rewards credit cards are an easy way to earn cash back or travel rewards. They often come with enormous welcome bonuses. And it’s not difficult to earn hundreds of dollars simply by optimizing your credit card strategy to match your spending.

The big downside of rewards credit cards is their offensively high APR. By carrying a balance month-to-month, you could quite easily negate any rewards you earn on spending. And if you let your balances get out of control, your cards can become extremely difficult to pay off.

Do credit card rewards expire?

Credit card rewards such as cash back, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Capital One miles don’t expire as long as you hold a card that earns these points.

However, cards that accrue airline miles or hotel points may expire, depending on the loyalty program. For example, Hilton Honors points expire after 24 consecutive months with no account activity. But you can extend this expiration simply by swiping your Hilton card and earning even a single point every 24 months.

Are credit card rewards taxable?

In general, credit card rewards aren’t taxable. They’re considered a rebate instead of income.

But there are known to be exceptions. For example, if you refer a friend to a credit card and receive rewards, the IRS will likely send you a 1099-MISC form.

On the other hand, some credit cards can also be valuable tools for those who prepare their own tax services, helping them save more money during tax season.

What are the most popular rewards programs?

Cash back is far and away the most popular rewards “program.”

For those interested in free travel, the most popular rewards programs are Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, and Capital One miles. These programs allow you to convert your points to many different airline and hotel programs. That’s great if you’re not sure what your upcoming travel plans will entail.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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